Ronda Rousey’s list of accomplishments speak for themselves. As an Olympic bronze medal winner in judo, the first UFC women’s bantamweight champion and the first woman inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame, it’s safe to say that when Rousey puts her mind to something she makes it happen. When Rousey, a lifelong wrestling fan, decided she wanted to enter the world of the WWE and sports entertainment, she knew she’d have a target on her back immediately.
Critics would pick apart her performances with a fine-tooth comb just looking for flaws to exacerbate. But Rousey is an athlete who knows what it takes to deliver when it’s clutch time. Her first year in the WWE saw her go above and beyond expectations. Each match got better and better until it was finally time for the ultimate match: The main event at WrestleMania. Rousey’s journey to the grandest stage has had some rowdy moments.
The first ever Royal Rumble match had fans on their feet as Superstars from the past made their surprise entrances. Backstage, one last surprise awaited the unsuspecting crowd. Triple H led a dark hooded figure through the back of Wells Fargo center in secret. The visitor’s identity would only be revealed at the last possible second, to the shock of the world.
The moment arrived: Asuka eliminated Nikki Bella to win the first ever women’s Royal Rumble match giving her a shot at either the Raw or SmackDown Women’s Championships held by Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair, respectively. The three of them stood in the ring sizing each other up when suddenly “Bad Reputation” by Joan Jett and The Blackhearts rang out over the loud speaker.
The crowd was puzzled at first; this song seemed familiar but not in a WWE setting. Then the graphics appeared on the big screen emblazoned in the same fashion as her namesake “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and the crowd lit up in excitement. But when Ronda Rousey herself stepped foot through the curtain the crowd erupted. The rumors were true: “The Baddest Woman on the Planet” had arrived in the WWE.
Rousey strode to the ring wearing a “Hot Rod” inspired t-shirt that read “Hot Ronda” while wearing the very same leather jacket that Piper wore to the ring so many times before. Rousey, a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, was happy to be there. Her usual stoic poise heading into a fight melted into an uncharacteristic grin as she took in the massive crowd.
She stepped in the ring and faced down Asuka, Flair and Bliss before pointing to the WrestleMania sign high above. We were provided with a cryptic glance into her future and one of the biggest surprise debuts in the history of WWE.